Aviation—The Gin and the Cocktail

Aviation—The Gin and the Cocktail

There is a Secret Handshake™ among the cocktailian elite of the 21st Century. If you see anyone displaying proficiency with it, you know they are members of the Lodge. And should you employ it yourself, other cocktailians will know you are conversant in the mysteries.
This handshake is the Aviation Cocktail.
There are a number of reasons that this drink is so appealing to drink wonks.

  • First, it is delicious. Delicate and balanced, but potent, the Aviation provides a lot to think about while you enjoy it.
  • Second, it’s a classic. At nearly a hundred years old, the concoction dates back to the golden age of cocktails.
  • Third, it has snob/wonk appeal. There are unconventional and exotic ingredients in the Aviation. And nothing appeals more to the modern cocktailian than the opportunity to employ such ingredients. Just drop in for any TDN to behold the truth of my words.
  • Fourth, it is gorgeous. The pale violet color is appealing on its own, and makes a great frame for the dark redness of the nestled cherry.

You know, you could just cut all the purple prose, and tell us how to make the drink….

Oh very well. I just wanted to flaunt my knowledge of the Secret Handshake™, so all the cool kids will know that I’m an initiate.
And har har. Purple prose. Very cute. You can be replaced, you know.
Anyway, here is how I make an Aviation:


  • 2 oz. Aviation Gin
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. creme de violette

Combine in shaker with small ice and agitate gently until the shaker is too cold to hold. Strain into an equally chilled cocktail glass, and nestle a home-made maraschino brandied cherry in the bottom of the glass, along with a drop or two of its juice.

It is a simple cocktail to make, but a hard one for which to acquire the ingredients. Luxardo is reasonably available, even in Ohio, but you will have to look in a specialty store for it. Creme de Violette was unavailable anywhere on Earth for decades, and its successful reappearance on the market was one of the early indicators that our modern cocktail renaissance had commercial legs. You can make the recipe without the Creme de Violette, but it won’t be purple, it won’t be quite as good, and as far as I’m concerned, it won’t really be an Aviation.
Lastly, there is the gin to consider. The occasion for my writing this post was the Liquor Fairy’s arrival with a bottle of Aviation Gin, along with a bottle of Krogstad Aquavit. Aviation is a brand I had heard of all over the place, but had never personally encountered before, but I am now thoroughly hooked. I’m hooked on it in general, but for Aviation Cocktail’s in particular, which should hardly be a surprise.
Aviation Gin was actually named after the Aviation Cocktail. This is a tribute to the brand’s uniquely cocktailian heritage, as it was developed through a partnership between craft distillers and a mixologist.
My usual process when testing a new gin is usually to first make a Pegu… hey, it’s what I do. But here I made an exception and instead whipped up an Aviation the first evening the bottle arrived.
This is a delicious gin, folks.
House Spirits Distilling deliberately downplays the juniper in Aviation. The juniper is still the lead, but it lets the other kids speak too. The resulting spirit would likely be a lot more accessible for those drinkers who are a bit leery of gin, or are outright gin virgins. For the gin evangelists out there, Aviation Gin is a powerful preaching tool. I found it particularly great with the Aviation Cocktail because the broader, more complex and less powerful taste of the gin lets the maraschino and creme de violette relax, rather than working for attention.
Aviation bills itself as a New Western Dry Gin. This is intended to indicate that it is a style distinct from London Dry or Plymouth. Another (very different) example of such a gin would probably be Hendrick’s. If House Spirits and other makers of such gins want this new appellation to take hold, they will have to produce a better description that they currently have. You can read it at this link (PDF), since it is too long for me to reasonably blockquote here. This is one of its problems, of course. It is also chatty, colloquial, and indefinite.

Sounds like you….

Exactly. But I’ll take a shot at writing a definition that doesn’t sound like I wrote it. We’ll see what people think.

New Western Dry Gin
New Western Dry Gins are produced through the redistillation of neutral spirits with a variety of botanical elements, chief of which is juniper. New Western gins are distinguished from London Dry in that the supporting botanicals form an ensemble with the defining juniper, rather than a supporting cast.

Regardless, the ensemble in Aviation Gin puts on a very enjoyable performance. And for the record, it makes a delicious Pegu as well. An Aviation Gin Pegu is lighter and less bracing than one made with a Bombay Sapphire or Beefeater’s. I’d suggest it as a good choice of gin for a Pegu with dinner.

The-Liquor-Fairy-ThumbThe Liquor Fairy Was Here!
The following product, Aviation Gin was recently provided to me as promotional consideration to encourage me to discuss it.
For a complete disclosure of my policies regarding promotional items and all other financial interests, please click this link, or follow the Liquor Fairy link in the header of this page.


  1. Ron

    14 September

    Had a couple of these Friday night. Whoa are they addictive and damn goof. Check out Serious Eats for the Cocktail Bucket List, this one is on it.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Doug

    14 September

    Give us a link, Ron!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. cph

    29 November

    Fitting that this is the “secret handshake” since it’s the classic cocktail that got me into classic cocktails. This is the one I make for people who “don’t like gin”.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  4. The Pegu Blog

    22 March

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

@DAWInship on Instagram
Please Add Widget from here